At the moment, despite not showing any signs of a decline due to age and NFL mileage, the Minnesota Vikings don’t seem like they’re planning on keeping Jared Allen beyond the 2013 season, which means one of the best pass rushers in the league will be available for the highest bidder after this season.
Allen has been with the Vikings since 2008, putting up impressive numbers of 74 sacks in 80 games, and including his time with the Kansas City Chiefs is a four-time first team All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler. He has played in all 16 games in each of the last five seasons for the team, and there’s been nothing to suggest he won’t be as fearsome and productive in the future despite being 31, which usually suggests some sort of decline.
However, the Vikings, with plenty of cap-space to use, might not be inclined to pay a 30-something pass-rusher more than $11 million a season anymore. Usually, top players with only one year left on their contracts are approached by their teams considering a new deal, but Allen has told the media there has been no contact between the two sides. It might mean that the Vikings are stalling and considering their options, still leaving a window open for the summer or even during the season (which is never advisable), but it’s probably more in line with the way of thinking that the Vikings are moving on from Allen.
The reason? Cap space. Only five players in the NFL have higher 2013 cap figures than Allen, and all of them are quarterbacks. The Vikings have Christian Ponder, who is still on his rookie deal, but like most teams in the NFL, they prefer to pay that kind of money to someone who isn’t a defensive end who is heading towards the final years of his career.
It wouldn’t be surprising that the plan for the Vikings is to simply get the most they can out of Allen and then part ways in 2013, hoping that the money they’ll save on him (which someone else in the league will surely pay him) will be enough to improve the team with enough quality and younger talent.